Thursday, June 28, 2007

What Not to Say

There is… a time to keep silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b)

"True eloquence consists of saying all that should be said, and that only." (Francois de La Rochefoucauld)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Discipline of Happiness

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Gratitude is not so much a feeling as it is a discipline. Gratitude flows from a life of obedience to God’s Word and God’s ways.

I once knew a woman named Olivia who was well into her 90s. She was widowed early in life and was left to raise her three children on her own. She had lived through many lean years and struggled greatly to make ends meet.

Through it all, without fail, she would start each morning with a hymn and end each day with a Scripture reading. She would follow this up with prayers of thanksgiving for all God’s blessings.

These disciplines gave Olivia the strength to face the challenges her life brought. They also helped her come to experience joy in the midst of hardship.

Someone once wrote -

"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Personal Love

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

God’s love for us is intensely personal. And God wants us to share this love with others in a very personal way. Our job is not to love “the world”, but to love each individual within the world.

Mother Teresa put it this way -

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time."

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Whole Bible

"[Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:16)

These words provide a stark warning not to take any of Scripture lightly. There were many then (and are many now) trying to select passages they not only understood, but agreed with. Scripture is not meant to confirm our personal opinions, it is to challenge us to lead more holy and joyful lives.

It's true that many passages of Scripture are difficult to understand and apply to the world today. This does not mean we should dismiss them as irrelevant. One of the best things to do when we come across a difficult passage is compare it with clearer passages that address similar concerns. Reading the whole Bible gives us better glimpse of God's big picture for our lives.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

God's Work

O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. (1 Chronicles 29:18)

Sometimes we get caught up in how much we accomplish (or fail to accomplish). Our minds shift from what we are doing to the outcome we want to produce.

The truth is, however, apart from God we can do nothing. The best we can do is to let go of all false notions of what we can achieve and instead receive the Holy Spirit to be faithful each moment of the day.

As Oswald Chambers put it -

"The idea is not that we work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.